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When the past is present…

 

Republicans’ First Black Congresswoman

By Justin Moyer, washingtonpost.com

For at least half a century, the party of Lincoln has battled charges that it is racist, sexist and anti-immigrant.

Mia LoveToday, voters from a conservative state made those arguments a little bit harder to make. In Utah, Mia Love became the first black Republican woman — and first Haitian American — elected to Congress.

For the GOP — a house divided that faces significant demographic hurdles to winning the White House in 2016 even as it celebrates President Obama’s shellacking — this was huge. A party threatened with electoral extinction among African Americans and immigrants now has someone to brag about in Washington. In a wave election less about fresh Republican ideas than fervid disapproval of all things presidential, Love’s compelling personal story is an oasis. She’s not just a black face in what’s often described as a party full of angry old white men. She’s a path forward.

It’s hard to overstate how unlikely Love’s victory looked on paper. Utah is less than 1 percent black. Though more than 60 percent of the state’s people identify as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church is just 3 percent black. Love, 38, is one of these few black Mormons — part of a church that, until 1978, didn’t let African Americans participate in all church activities and still hasn’t apologized for its racism.

Yet, a woman born in Brooklyn to Haitian immigrants is now a duly-elected representative of the Beehive State.

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Students Ask Not To Be Called African-American; Teacher Allegedly Calls Them N-Word

By , huffingtonpost.com

Last week, an Illinois substitute teacher reportedly called a group of four middle school girls the N-word after they asked not to be called African-American.

The incident occurred at Jay Stream Middle School in the town of Carol Stream during an eighth-grade social studies class. When interviewed by local news outlet WMAQ, student Mea Thompson, who is of Jamaican descent, said they asked the teacher not to call them African-American since none of them are from Africa.

“She said, ‘It’s the politically correct term.’ Then she said, ‘Well, back then you guys would be considered the N-word,'” Thompson said, recalling the exchange. “We were so shocked and we were like, ‘What? Excuse me? That’s not correct to call us that.’ She was like, ‘Well, back then that’s what African-Americans were called.’”

The teacher allegedly used the N-word several times over the 80-minute class period.

“After the shock and hurt, I’m angry,” Thompson’s mother, Shayna, said. “It’s a new world, and the people of the past that still hang onto hatred and bigotry don’t belong in this world anymore.”

When reached for comment, the District Superintendent

Eighth grade students Mea Thompson and Zaria Daniel (WMAQ)

Eighth grade students Mea Thompson and Zaria Daniel (WMAQ)

William Shields said the events in the classroom are still unclear, but said the teacher would not be returning to the school.

“We’re finding that an awful lot of the accounts on the specific words and actions are extremely inconsistent, so it’s very hard to judge this situation,” Shields told The Huffington Post. “We’re proud of the kids. We want them to be able to come to administrators and teachers to speak about issues of not feeling safe or secure. That being said … we’re not having the substitute back because the substitute attempted to teach a lesson outside the curriculum, which we didn’t authorize.”

WMAQ readers took to the comments section to weigh in on the story.

“What justifies the use of the N-word in a classroom, regardless what takes place on TV or on the radio?” wrote one.

“What does the history of the N-word have to do with a child requesting to not be categorized in a certain way?” asked another. “She is Jamaican, not African-American.”

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Braving Ebola

Photographs and interviews by DANIEL BEREHULAK, nytimes.com

"I have dreams in the middle of the night, waking up in the Ebola ward as a patient. I’ve had dreams where I’m in the ward without any gear, just standing there in my pants and shirt. But I like getting up in the morning, and I like coming here. I think we’re actually making a difference for these people." Steven Hatch, 45, physician from Boston

“I have dreams in the middle of the night, waking up in the Ebola ward as a patient. I’ve had dreams where I’m in the ward without any gear, just standing there in my pants and shirt. But I like getting up in the morning, and I like coming here. I think we’re actually making a difference for these people.”
Steven Hatch, 45, physician from Boston

"I came here to look for a job to help my family. Some were afraid to come here, and I took the chance. I focus on my work. I can’t feel nothing when I’m working." Otis Bah, 41, gravedigger

“I came here to look for a job to help my family. Some were afraid to come here, and I took the chance. I focus on my work. I can’t feel nothing when I’m working.”
Otis Bah, 41, gravedigger

The patients arrive, at first fearful of the people in spacesuits whose faces they cannot see. They wait for test results, for the next medical rounds, for symptoms to appear or retreat. They watch for who recovers to sit in the courtyard shade and who does not. They pray.

The workers offer medicine, meals, cookies and comfort. They try to make patients smile. Very, very carefully, they start IVs. They spray chlorine, over and over, and they dig graves. They pray.

These are the people of one Ebola clinic in rural Liberia. Run by the American charity International Medical Corps, the clinic rose in September out of a tropical forest. It now employs more than 170 workers, a mix of locals and foreigners, some of them volunteers. There are laborers trying to make money for their families, university students helping because Ebola has shut down their schools, and American doctors who, after years of studying outbreaks, are seeing Ebola’s ravages in person for the first time. A mobile laboratory operated by the United States Navy has set up shop at a shuttered university. Now, test results come back in a matter of hours instead of several days.

Some of the workers will stay a few more weeks, or until the end of the year. Many of the Liberians vow to remain until the disease is gone, when they can go back to their old jobs or resume their former lives. They work toward a time after Ebola.

"I got up in the morning, I prayed. In the evening, I prayed. At dinner, I prayed. Prayed to get well. Yesterday they said, 'You, you’re free.' I danced, I jumped." George Beyan, 34, Ebola survivor

“I got up in the morning, I prayed. In the evening, I prayed. At dinner, I prayed. Prayed to get well. Yesterday they said, ‘You, you’re free.’ I danced, I jumped.”
George Beyan, 34, Ebola survivor

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Chadwick Boseman Is Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’

Chadwick Boseman arrives at the premiere of Get on Up during the 40th Deauville U.S. Film Festival Sept. 12, 2014, in France.

Chadwick Boseman 

concept art

BY: , theroot.com

On the heels of his breakthrough performance as James Brown in Get on Up, Chadwick Boseman has been cast as Marvel Studios’ first solo lead of color (not to be confused with Blade, which was co-produced with New Line Cinema). He will take on the role of T’Challa, the head of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in Black Panther.

Many fanboys of Marvel Comics thought this day would never come. Some wondered if Black Panther, which was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, would ever get the big-screen attention it deserved.

“It’s about how this isolationist country of Wakanda needs to meet the world,” said Marvel Studio’s Kevin Feige.

“I’m blessed to be part of this Marvel Universe, and I look forward to making magic together,” said Boseman.

Black Panther is slated to be released on Nov. 3, 2017. 

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Search Resumes in DC for Missing 8-Year-Old Relisha Rudd

BY: , theroot.comRelisha_Rudd_page-bg_41174

Volunteers resumed searching Saturday for 8-year-old Relisha Rudd, who went missing seven months ago after her mother entrusted her in the care of a janitor, who worked at the homeless shelter where the family lived in Washington, D.C.

Four teams scoured three areas near Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Northeast D.C. for Relisha, including search and rescue workers from Maine, who arrived in the area Thursday to help out,according to NBC 4 Washington.

Investigators say it is unlikely that she is still alive, but volunteers told the station they want to find out what happened to Relisha, who was last seen on March 1 at a motel with 51-year-old Khalil Tatum. He worked as a janitor at the homeless shelter where her family lived.

A missing report was not filed in the case, but police became involved on March 19 after inquiries from the child’s school. They discovered the body of Tatum’s wife in a hotel room in Oxon Hill, Md., and police found Tatum’s body on March 31. He is believed to have committed suicide, reports say.

Police say Tatum bought a shovel, lime and contractor sized trashbags at a Home Depot, and spent a lot of time at the park about the time the child was last seen, the news station reports.

But volunteers did not report any new finding late Saturday.

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Black Teen with White Parents Mistaken for Burglar, Assaulted by Cops in His Home

By John Vibe, FreeThoughtProject.com

DeShawn Currie was feeling comfortable and cared for by his foster parents, and then he was assaulted by police in his own home.

DeShawn Currie was feeling comfortable and cared for by his foster parents, and then he was assaulted by police in his own home.

A North Carolina teen was recently assaulted and pepper sprayed by police in his own home, after he was mistaken for a burglar.  18-year-old DeShawn Currie has been living with foster parents Ricky and Stacy Tyler in Wake County, North Carolina for about a year.

The Tylers love DeShawn as their own son and they have taken him into their home, in hopes to provide him the safe and loving environment that he needs to thrive in the most important years of his life.

Unfortunately, some of the Tyler’s neighbors were not familiar with the family dynamics of the home, and decided to call the police to report a burglary when they saw the young man entering his home after school one day.  DeShawn did not climb through a window or struggle to get inside, but simply walked through the unlocked door of the home.  The only thing that actually made his neighbors suspicious, was the color of his skin.

When police arrived on the scene they treated DeShawn like a criminal without asking any questions.

“They was like, ‘Put your hands on the door, I was like, ‘For what? This is my house.’ I was like, ‘Why are y’all in here?” DeShawn said in an interview.

When DeShawn asked the officers why they were in his home, they pointed at photos of white people hanging on the wall and told him that he was lying.

“I’m feeling comfortable, I had moved into my room, and I’m feeling like I’m loved. And then when they come in and they just profile me and say that I’m not who I am. And that I do not stay here because there was white kids on the wall, that really made me mad,” DeShawn later told reporters.

During the entire altercation, police were shouting profanity at the young man, and pointing multiple guns at his face.  When DeShawn stood firm and insisted that he was in fact in his own home, police attacked him with pepper spray.

When Stacy Tyler came home from work she saw her son DeShawn in the driveway being treated by paramedics for the injuries that police had inflicted.

“Everything that we’ve worked so hard for in the past years was stripped away yesterday in just a matter of moments,” father Ricky Tyler added.

The police department has defended their actions, saying that that DeShawn did not obey the officer’s orders to the letter, despite the fact that they were intruders in his home and had no right to be there barking orders at him.

Watch this Young Turks commentary about how DeShawn’s case involves white privilege.

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NAACP and Family Lawyers Are Looking Into Lennon Lacy’s Hanging Death

Lennon Lacy

Lennon Lacy

BY: , theroot.com

On Monday night, lawyers Al McSurely and Allen Rogers met with Claudia Lacy and Larry Walton to discuss the next step in the investigation into what McSurely called “the probable murder” of Lacy and Walton’s 17-year-old son, Lennon Lacy.

While the parents of boys like Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis waged uphill battles hoping to see their sons’ killers put behind bars, the biggest obstacle for Lennon’s family is the fact that police in their small North Carolina town insist that their son took his own life.

In August, Lennon was found hanging by his neck from a swing set in the middle of a trailer park near his home in Bladenboro, N.C. Authorities quickly ruled out foul play in his death and have since labeled it a suicide. But Lennon’s parents have met the reports with disbelief, as have many of Bladenboro’s black residents.

McSurely, an attorney working with the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter and Lennon’s family, told The Root that he and the family are looking to find out who killed Lennon and that they “have a rough idea of who some of those people might be.”

“What we’re trying to decide now, after talking to several witnesses who have come forward to us, is how we’re going to play that with the DA,” said McSurely, adding that the family may take the case to the FBI or U.S. Department of Justice. “It’s not like Ferguson or Trayvon’s case in the sense that here, we don’t know who shot him. In this case, somebody strangled him and took his body over there and … hung him up there in the middle of the night.”

Lennon’s autopsy was released last week by Chief Medical Examiner Deborah Radisch, and all signs pointed to suicide. But far from assuaging his family’s concerns, the autopsy, like every part of the investigation so far, has made them more suspicious.

Radisch noted in the autopsy’s “summary and interpretation” section that Lennon had attended the funeral of his uncle the day before his death, indicating that Lennon “had been depressed over the recent death of his uncle.” This finding confused and upset the family because they say it has no relevance to physical and forensic-analysis findings.

“An autopsy cannot determine whether a person was depressed—you can’t tell that from physical signs, so why was it put in the report?” Lennon’s brother, Pierre Lacy, told The Guardian. “That’s a red flag to me—it’s not factual.”

The family also noted that missing entirely from the autopsy was the fact that Lennon was wearing white shoes, with the laces missing, that were a size-and-a-half too small for him. His family insists that on the night of his death, Lennon was wearing a pair of black Jordan sneakers that he had recently purchased for the start of school. Though the autopsy carefully notes that Lennon was wearing “black socks, a pair of navy blue nylon sports pants, a navy blue nylon short-sleeve shirt and multicolored boxer shorts,” it makes no mention of his shoes.

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Man gets life without parole for murdering Florida teen over loud music

By Ray Sanchez, CNNmichaeldunn_101714

A Florida judge Friday sentenced Michael Dunn to life in prison without parole for the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

The sentence, imposed nearly two years after Dunn shot and killed Davis during an argument over loud music, also carries an additional 90 years for three convictions of attempted murder and firing a weapon into a vehicle.

“This case demonstrates that our justice system does work,” Duval County Judge Russell Healey said moments before sentencing Dunn.

Dunn, 47, who is white, was convicted of first-degree murder this month for shooting into an SUV full of African-American teenagers at a Jacksonville, Florida, gas station after an argument over loud music from the teens’ vehicle.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the racially-charged case, which drew comparisons to the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman, who maintained that he acted in self-defense, was acquitted last year by a Florida jury.

Dunn claimed he acted in self-defense because he believed Davis was reaching for a gun. No weapon was found.

“Mr. Dunn, your life is effectively over,” Healey said. “What is sad… is that this case exemplifies that our society seems to have lost its way.”

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I raised my sons to be racially neutral

Two mixed-race boys, one lighter skinned than the other. Did I make a mistake telling them they were the same?

By , Salon.com

A photo of the author's sons: Brennan, left, and Colin.

A photo of the author’s sons: Brennan, left, and Colin.

One Saturday night in St. Louis about decade ago my younger son, then a teen, was driving around town with two white friends. I’m black and my husband is white, so our two sons are biracial. This particular son has his father’s straight hair and aquiline nose. His skin is brown like mine.

The friend in the back seat behind my son stuck a paint pellet gun out the back window and shot a stop sign…

As a young family, we usually didn’t talk about race or even acknowledge it, because at the time we didn’t see the need. Then one night at the dinner table I got my first reality check when our younger boy, who was 7 at the time, said, “Dad, I want white skin and braces. And a new first name, like Michael.”…

While raising my boys, I often wondered: Should I have “the talk” with them about being black? The decision was complicated by our older son’s appearance. With his curly hair and rounded nose, he has always looked more like me than his dad, but unlike his brother, his skin appears completely white. This detail had always made “the talk” seem absurd. Should I poison the well of innocence by telling his brother that he was different?…

In bi- and multi-racial families, children's skin color and facial features are expressed in ways that complicate our expectations of "white" and "black." Because these classifications historically carry importance social weight, is it possible for these children to live "race neutral"?

In bi- and multi-racial families, children’s skin color and facial features are expressed in ways that complicate our expectations of “white” and “black.” Because these classifications historically carry importance social weight, is it really possible for these children to live “race neutral”?

Then came the phone call about the paint pellet incident. My husband went to the station and handled everything. About 10 days later, we all appeared in juvenile court to learn what the punishment would be. The white kid with the gun was most culpable and had a later court date, but they all got into trouble.

While my husband and one of the other fathers talked to the lawyer, a different policeman said to my son and me, “If I saw one of these paint pellet guns sticking out a car window, you don’t know how close I’d be to shooting you.”

Editor’s Note: What would you do as the parent of these boys?

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Quvenzhané Wallis Looks Forward To (Hopefully) Being Nominated For An Oscar Again

Wallis attends the "Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet" premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Toronto.

Wallis attends the “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Toronto.

By , huffingtonpost.com

Quvenzhané Wallis has accomplished more than most kids her age. At 9 years old, she became a household name as the youngest actress ever to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her role as Hushpuppy in the 2013 film, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Now, at age 11, she’s set to star as the titular character in a remake of “Annie,” the iconic 1982 movie adapted from the Broadway musical by the same name.

Directed by Will Gluck, produced by Jay Z, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, 2014’s “Annie” co-stars Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (an update of the character Daddy Warbucks). Cameron Diaz will play the cruel and incorrigible Ms. Hannigan.

“It was really fun and everybody was really nice,” Wallis told HuffPost

Quvenzhane Wallis, joined by her four-legged co-star, Sandy, reads aloud from Banfield Pet Hospital's first-ever children's book, "My Very, Very Busy Day," at a book launch event at the Children's Museum of Manhattan, on Oct. 15, 2014, in New York City.

Quvenzhane Wallis, joined by her four-legged co-star, Sandy, reads aloud from Banfield Pet Hospital’s first-ever children’s book, “My Very, Very Busy Day,” at a book launch event at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, on Oct. 15, 2014, in New York City.

Entertainment of working with the all-star cast while promoting a new book released by Banfield Pet Hospital, “My Very, Very Busy Day.” “And Jamie Foxx was, of course, very funny. He told me to have fun and always be yourself.”

Wallis is confident that this role will help her — and her puppy purse — make it back on the red carpet during award show season. Asked if she’s hoping to get another Oscar nomination one day, the actress said, “For ‘Annie,’ of course, and yes!”

“It was really exciting because it was a great opportunity and it’s not like it happens every single day,” Wallis said of her experience as a nominee in 2013. As for how she made it this far, Wallis, who wants to be a veterinarian someday, insists it’s all about following your dreams.

“Stay confident and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it,” Wallis said, “because, trust me, you can. Look at me!”

“Annie” hits theaters Dec. 19, 2014.

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